Designing a playset for older kids can be a challenge! You have to balance their needs vs any little ones that might also use the swing set.
For today’s blog post, we will assume the youngest child in the home is about 6, and the ages go up from there. What are some good ideas and designs for a playset for older kids?
While every family is different, a few concepts apply to designing playsets for older kids. Let’s dive into those.
Older kids don’t want to feel cramped and confined in a swing set or playhouse. It will make them feel like the vinyl swing set is for “little babies.”
Space can mean the size of the tower but also how much head space the child has as well. Using towers that are 6’x6’ and bigger, plus raising the roof an additional foot can do a lot to make the older children feel like this is a space made for them.
Headspace is really important when adding items below the tower. For example, a 5’ tower with a decked bottom only has 4’ between the 2’x6’s. That is not a lot of head space for a growing child.
As you increase the tower height, the head space grows. If you are considering putting a coffee bar or clubhouse under your tower for older kids, I strongly suggest making the tower at least 6’ tall. This will give them 5’ of head space under the tower.
Space can also mean the size of the swing set. Older kids generally play more advanced and active games than younger kids, so having more towers, climbers, and bridges for them to play tag, have nerf blaster fights, or run obstacle courses is important.
5’ is a great height for starting out, but it keeps the older kid’s interest. The difference between and 5’ rock wall and a 7’ rock wall is a lot. A 7’ tall tower is visually impressive and gives the playset a “bigger kids” feel.
Height is also important for the slides as, in general, the taller the tower, the faster the slide.
Height also affects which swing beams you can use. I generally recommend using a 10’ high beam for older kids. This swing beam allows for a much higher swinging than the standard 8’ tall swing beam.
While this is much more of a personal preference issue, I have noticed in my own children that swings that provide wild circular motion are a major hit. They all love using belt swings, but a swing they all can pile on and really get going…that is a good time!
How to apply this practically: having belt swings is a great start. Having our team install a swivel hook in the center of the swing beam will allow you to use swings like a 3-rope tire swing or another big circular swing in the center of your beam.
When you use those free-range motion swings, you will have to remove the other swings from the swing beam as they will be bumping into them.
Another suggestion is to use two of your swing positions to get large web swings off online retailers. This will allow many children to use it at once or one child to lie down and swing gently while reading. In that same discussion, adding a fourth position with a hammock swing is a great idea if you have a reader in your family.
Put it in Practice
Now that we have explored a few important concepts when designing a playset for older children, let’s take a look at a few standard models and why they are good for older kids.
The Wave Rider is a great set for older kids. It is 7’ tall and spacious, with that high beam, tall climber, and slide built right into it. My suggestion for this set is to change the super spiral slide to either a turbo tube or a tunnel express slide. Those slides are more big kid friendly.
The Chateau is another great set for older kids right out of the package. It is 7’ tall and has lots of space for all kinds of games. My suggestion here is to increase the size of the towers to give a bit more space.
The Launching Pad is unique to this list as the only one with a double-deck tower. This means if you have younger children, this set is great for them, too! The Launching pad has a 7’ tall tower, a high swing beam, and a clubhouse with lots of head space. I suggest increasing the back tower to a 6’x6’ to give that upper tower a bit more space, which will also increase the space of the clubhouse below.
If you have any questions about designing swing sets for older kids, please feel free to contact our swing set design team! We would love to help you out!